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Dear brothers and sisters,
I was baptized into the Catholic faith when I was 2 weeks old, and have loved being in the body of Christ my entire life. I LOVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!!!
My introduction to the Charismatic Renewal began in Juneau, Alaska (USA). It was June of 1971. I had gone into an Assembly of God church, out of mere curiosity. I was surprised by what I encountered there, but fell in love with these new brothers and sisters. So many things that I had longed for in my relationship with God I found in that amazing encounter with the Holy Spirit!
I returned to my home in Michigan (USA) and attended a prayer meeting put on by the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
In the following years, I became very involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. I was excited to see how the Spirit was transforming the lives of so many people. I was happy to serve where I could, as I believed the Renewal was a significant way God was working in the world, and was excited to be part of this amazing grace.
Eventually, I was asked to serve on ICCRS, which was a great honor, but also carried a sense of responsibility. In ICCRS, I met many wonderful brothers and sisters all over the world. I also saw how the one Spirit could move in many ways. God’s work was much bigger than anything I could imagine. I also understood that God works in a variety of ways through a variety of people. No one “owns” the Spirit.
Those years of service, and all those important lessons came to a new moment of realization and clarity as I stood in the crowd at Circus Maximus, during the recent celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal held in Rome at Pentecost. The Jubilee was an opportunity to look back, give thanks, and reflect upon some important lessons. It was also a time to look ahead, trying to understand God’s plans for us and learning how to respond in this new day.
In the ICCRS Council meeting that followed the festivities, there was a surprise of the Spirit with my election as the next President of ICCRS. I love and respect our former President, Michelle Moran so much, that to be honest, it is a bit intimidating to try to walk the path she has blazed for us. Still, I have to trust God, and rely on the prayers of my beloved brothers and sisters, that God will give me the grace necessary to fulfill my task.
As the ICCRS Council was coming to a close, we returned once more to the now empty Circus Maximus. The open field was in sharp contrast to the throng of nearly 38,000 people gathered there just a few days earlier. We walked back to the place where Pope Francis had addressed the crowd. The stage was gone, the chairs were taken away. It was empty space. But as we stood there looking over the open area, I seemed to see again the smiling faces, the banners snapping in the breeze, the hands lifted in prayer and jubilation. “Looking out” over the crowd once more, a crowd comprised of over 120 nations, I fell in love with the Renewal all over again. But the “Renewal” I felt so deeply for at that moment wasn’t simply a structure, an organization, or an office. It was the men and women, the brothers and sisters… the family from all over the world who had experienced, and surrendered to this sweet touch of God’s love, the Holy Spirit.
At the end of the day, the Renewal is not about numbers, demographics, or even accomplishments. It’s about people… you and me… who have been “set on fire” with the love of God. People who believe that the Spirit of the Lord still moves upon the land to bring hearts close to the Father under the Lordship of Jesus.
That is the Renewal that I love.
That is the Renewal I will serve.